Going to the Garden of Gethsemane on Holy Thursday packs a special “punch.” Amer told us that the word “Gethsemane” means olive press. It was a garden, and also a place where they pressed olives. He also said specifically that it was a symbol of Jesus’ agony in the garden because we pushed and pressed Jesus so much that he sweat blood, almost like pressing an olive brings forth oil.
The church is darkly lit, and the stain glass windows are all shades of purple. An intricate ceiling and a mosaic floor are on display, showing the beauty of the church. But the most epic part is the mosaic on the outside. This depiction of Jesus and his disciples on the northern face is incredible. Small stones, used to make such an impacting image, show the dedication the artist must have felt when making the mosaic. Next we see the panoramic view on the Mount of Olives, and from looking at it, I am humbled and in awe.
Amer shows us the path Jesus walked and the Holy Sepulchre. The path between where He started and where He finished was a mile, but it would have been a grueling trek. The Mount of Olives also has the ruins of a Church built by St. Helen, and the new walls are covered with the Our Father in about 160 languages. It is crowded with people of all cultures, dress and faces, but one main thought is in all of our heads – “I am blessed to be here.”
Next we stop at Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion. This church rests over the strongly supposed place that Mary ended her earthly life. It represents the place where “Mary went to sleep.” There is a statue of Our Lady in stone, and candles to be lit. There is a fresco of Jesus standing holding Mary, wrapped in white linen. The Upper Room is right next door, and it was an interesting place to be.
There were actually 120 people in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit came over them, and they then went out speaking in different languages. We learn that 120 people represent what was needed to break off from Judaism. Authority comes from the number 120.
Our last stop before lunch is at St. Peter at Gallicantu, and this church is designed around the themes of redemption and forgiveness. My classmate Josh and I are talking about how beautiful the entire mosaic walls are. The church is located above the cistern where Jesus was lowered after his scourging. It would have been cold, dark and full of dirty water. Amer told us that Jesus was actually scourged three times. For me, this is such was a heart wrenching moment because I feel Jesus’ pain at that moment. Don’t all of us have friends who betray us, or fall asleep when all we want is their comfort? Don’t we have moments where we are alone and afraid? Jesus was abandoned, betrayed, spit upon and sworn at. I will always keep the image of the mosaic of Jesus in ropes being arrested in my head. Just remember, Jesus did this for us. And we are saved because of it. Utterly humbling.